Recently, I’ve spent some time thinking about the kingdom of God.
I continue to come back to the availability of God’s kingdom–that it is an already and not yet reality.
It is a kingdom that can be summarized by the word, shalom.
Shalom, in the broad sense is a word meaning “peace.” This Hebrew word goes beyond this idea to mean things like “welfare,” “harmony,” or “right relationships.”
When the world is as it should be–under God’s creative vision of the kingdom–the the world is a space of shalom.
God’s shalom is what we pray for when we proclaim with Jesus: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”
That kingdom and will are captured by the word shalom and the four relationships it presupposes. Shalom means that we were created to be in harmonious relationship to:
- God (we can know God, through Jesus, by the Spirit)
- Others (we can become part of a community centered on the Way)
- Creation (we can seek the flourishing of all creatures on the earth)
- Self (we can gain self awareness that opens us up to character purging and growth)
Depending on our spiritual background, we may naturally gravitate toward one or two of these shalom-shaped relationships.
Then, we also probably have one or two of these that we resist… or at least that don’t come easy.
Perhaps you grew up in a setting that almost exclusively focused on restoring your relationship to God.
Then, as you grew up you realized that God cares about others (community) and the earth.
Well, I’d guess that you probably now gravitate toward those “outward” relationships and struggle with relating to God. Of course, this is an inference and may not be true of lots of people.
The same pattern might be true of the person who grew up in a social justice focused family or church, but that perhaps didn’t have as many obvious outlets for connecting beyond an intellectual level with God.
Then, as you grew up you encountered a God that is too beautiful to be ignored.
Now, you find energy to invest in that relationship and the “outward” things are more laborious during this season.
I think you get the point: As much as we want to live in God’s kingdom of shalom, we all have natural relational onramps and roadblocks to entering that space with Jesus.
If you are human, shalom is hard.
If you are human, shalom is your deepest longing.
If you are human, Jesus can show you how to live into shalom.
If you are human, shalom is your destiny… a destiny that begins now.
Today, as you work, play, love, lead, and rest–may you find new ways of leaning into God’s kingdom of shalom.
We can enter Jesus’ kingdom of shalom.